Opinion: Diversity of mind needed to kindle progress

Alexandra Lisa | Staff Writer

Diversity makes room for evolution in a species. Without variation, a population is vulnerable to disease, habitat changes, environment disruption. Diversity is nature’s best strategy for survival.

The question is: how does it apply to the human race? Our doctors can cure disease. We often go looking for a change in location or job, sometimes in different countries. Surprises in our living, whether a change in leadership or a new law, are not the end all be all. So what benefit is diversity to us?

In everyday life, “diversity” is irrelevant. Mixing people of different races together has no positive, or negative, consequence. If, that is, you take the term to mean literal, biological diversity. But humans have not relied on biology as other species have for eons. We do not look to our genetic makeup to survive. We are on top of the food chain because we have learned to rely on brain power, on creativity, on new inventions. We discover. That is how we survive.

And when the key is no longer gene combinations, but idea collaborations, the question changes.

Progress is only made by coming up with something new. Coming up with something new is only done by asking the unasked question, looking at something from a different angle. The Wright Brothers ceased looking at the ground and lifted their heads to ask how man could enter the sky. Eli Lilly looked away from studies of how to cure cancer cells and applied chemotherapy to delete them instead. A group of scientists took the reaction of splitting an atom and began to think what would happen if it were bigger, which lead to the atomic bomb. Whether for good or bad progress, new people change the world when they bring something undiscovered to the table. For a new world, we need new minds working together. Asking for the former without the latter is like asking for the fire without the heat.

Education, life experiences, origins, and backgrounds shape minds. Take two rich men, put them together, and it will not matter whether they are American, Russian, Asian, or African, there will not be much revelation. But if one is a father? If the other has had prejudice to battle? If one is an artist, the other an engineer? Then, the results are no longer predictable.

“Diversity” does not describe people of different appearances doing identical work. It describes people with different minds figuring out what work is not being done. Variation sparks change. We claim our country is diverse, but if nothing is changing, “diversity” is not what we have. If terrorism has not decreased as a threat, if stereotypes are still so prominent they lead to widespread violence, if the same situations are leading to the same poor conditions of poverty and starvation for the same people, clearly there needs to be change.

We cannot continue to pretend having people of every color of the rainbow makes us diverse. Diversity moves us forward, and right now we have a bunch of people with the potential to make something happen, the potential to be diverse, the potential to change things, but nothing is happening. We talk to people of the same mind. We self-segregate ourselves based on what our comfort zone is. There is no investigative discussion. No strive to understand or comprehend.

We have the kindling. That does not make it fire. “Fire” is when that kindling is rubbed together until it bursts into flames. Without interaction, kindling is just twig, and it will sit there forever in the same spot as an inanimate pile of wood. The wood does not make the fire. The heat does.